REVIEW: Penny Dreadful #2

Penny Dreadful is highly successful show currently being shown, in the UK, on Sky Atlantic.  The names come from 19th century  poorly printed periodicals that would contain horror stories, sold for a penny.  At it’s best, it’s an adult take on classic horror characters; at it’s worse the show is very much style over substance.

Now three seasons deep, the show details of a disparate group of characters who came together to save Mina Harker from the clutches of her Master.  Thrown into the mix are a number of literary characters including, Dr Frankenstein, his monster and Dorian Gray.  This comic book run details the descent of Mina and sheds some light on the main characters, Vanessa Ives and Sir Malcolm Murray.

This issue has Sir Malcom et al meet up with Jonathan Harker in an effort to find out what happened to Mina who is Sir Malcolm’s daughter as well as the Jonathan’s wife.

Written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, from a story by the trio of Wilson-Cairns, Andrew Hinderaker and Chris King; I have no idea why a prequel book that uses source material as its muse needs three people to join the dots.  The dialogue reads well, with Sir M being his strong self and Vanessa at the start of her various trials and tribulations. But for fans of the show who already know what happens it’s all a bit pointless.  Future issues promise to show what happened to Sir M in Africa, which would go some way to fleshing out the character.

The strength of this comic may well be it quite divisive.  The painted work of Louie De Martinis carries the style of show extremely well. At times it can be chaotic, however De Martinis does well with the likeness of the characters which fans of the show should appreciate.  At first glance, the art reminds of Dave McKean from Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.  But on further reflection, it is more like a mix of McKean and perhaps Cam Kennedy.  Either way, you will either love it or hate it.

The stylings of the show can easily be traced back to Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; each look to bring literary characters together, although Penny Dreadful does covet the horror element. The similarities notwithstanding, Penny Dreadful has been an engaging show, with a strong cast delivering some excellent performances.  Tie-ins are all well and good, but as a prequel I am not sure it’s required.  After all, was there really  a need for The Phantom Menace? It could be that this run may lead to the further adventures of Sir Malcolm and the remains of his group, now that the show has been cancelled.

Writing – 2.5 Stars
Art – 4 Stars

Story: Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Andrew Hinderaker & Chris King
Script: Krytsy Wilson-Cairns
Artist: Louie De Martinis

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